Shaun Schofield's 2011 blogGAR Entries

OCT 31 2011
blogGAR: Merryfield Open Evening 2011

Merryfield is the satellite airfield to nearby RNAS Yeovilton and plays an important role in the training of the resident Commando Sea King and Lynx crews. Held on a summer's evening in June, the Royal Navy opens its doors free of charge, giving the locals an exhibition of the training routines undertaken at the airfield and presenting the opportunity to get up close and personal with the aircraft and their crews, with the small selection of static aircraft opened up for the public viewing.

From an enthusiast's perspective, the event also provides some unique photographic opportunities, providing the weather plays ball. Sadly, there was a fair amount of cloud cover at this year's event, although the sun did make an appearance at the right times, illuminating the aircraft with some beautiful golden light when it mattered.

This year's static display was a little sparser than previous years, with a Tutor, Lynx HAS.3 and the familiar 'Arctic' (actually Bosnian!) camouflaged Sea King HC.4 on the ground courtesy of the squadrons based at Yeovilton, as well as a glider and tug from the local flying club.

Additional, civilian attendance was provided by the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance, which departed early on, having to attend an emergency, and the Avon and Somerset Police EC-135. Agusta Westland traditionally supports the show with a range of aircraft, though this year they sent just a solitary A109 for static display.

The flying demonstrations commenced with a parachute drop by the Royal Navy Raiders Team, jumping from another Sea King HC.4, which then proceeded to conduct a series of displays, demonstrating the aforementioned training routines that take place at Merryfield. These included simulated autorotations, downwind landings and single engine circuits, as well as fast roping and underslung lifting capabilities.

A Lynx Mk.8 performed similar demonstrations alternately with the Sea King, before joining up with its partner HAS.3 of the Black Cats display team and closing the flying with their impressive routine for the 2011 season.

The evening closed with the static aircraft departing, providing a unique opportunity to get close to the aircraft as they take off. With many of the helicopters simply taking off from their parking spots, the departures were a little sportier than usual, with the Police EC-135 in particular giving it the beans as it left!

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